Written by Hulda Lawrence
There are many Austrian touches. The water glasses are in the shape of beer steins and walls are decorated with the leaves and branches of autumn. Our waiter, Jess from Santa Fe, explained the menu to us. We began with Klee cocktails, an Asian Pear Martini for my companion and a Mango Tango for me. Both were done very well.
Chef Angerer uses whatever is fresh in the market and makes some fine small bites. For example, he makes his own potato chips to order and they arrive warm at $5; other nibbles include Mini Maine Lobster rolls at $12, both were good. Chicken-Pumpkin soup came in a wonderful two-tiered container and is $7. Salads are Blue Cheese, Watercress and Bartlett Pear with toasted hazelnuts and a touch of first run maple syrup, $12; and Spit Roasted Chicken and arugula salad with Belgian endive, grapefruit and peppercorn vinaigrette for the same price. Another snack is a mini pot of Muscovy Duck Pate with quince, rose petals and brioche toast at $12.
Our main courses were a Duck Prosciutto sandwich with mixed greens, jalapeno and orange jam, $10; and a marvelous Alsatian thin Crust Pizza with crème fraiche, lardons and Vidalia onions, $14. As the emphasis is on Austrian food we also shared a Grilled Wagyu Bratwurst and sauerkraut, $16.
Although there are 14 beers from Germany and other countries, we had Austrian wines: Gruner Veltliner, Alte Reben for my companion and Zwei-Blau, "Heinrich Red" for me. The wines were poured from their bottles into our glasses. There are wines from other countries and the United States priced from $9 a glass while beers start at $5.
If you want breakfast there is Cornflake Crusted French Toast with Bananas and maple syrup; Organic Eggs and Cheddar Cheese on a warm baguette from the Wood Stone Oven; or Fritata, $10 to $12.
Our desserts were Sachertorte with Schlag and three scoops of sorbet: cranberry, Bartlett pear or avocado pineapple. Desserts are $6 and $7. Other desserts are Bread Pudding with Lingonberries and Apple Strudel.
Evenings the chef has set special dishes from all the foods of Europe. Mondays it is Viennese Fried Chicken, Tuesday it is Paella, Friday it is Shrimp and Lemon risotto, and Saturday it is Wiener Schnitzel. Prices for the specials start at $19 and half portions can be ordered.
Dinner appetizers include Steamed Florida Shrimp with crushed avocado; Indian Corn and Mushroom Chowder; and other dishes described for lunch from $8. Main courses might be Chicken Spiced with Licorice done on the Wood Stone Oven or Duckling with Jersey Plums. On the Mesquite Grill there is Red Sea Bream, BBQ Black Hog Port Belly, Monkfish or Beef Hanger Steak. Then, on the griddle there are Maine Diver Sea Scallops with lemon spaetzle pasta and Colorado Lamb shank poached in Rioja. These entrees start at $22.
This is a charming restaurant with modern décor and a sprightly menu; diners can order small or large portions of almost everything.
It is wonderful to report that Shelly Fireman's Trattoria La Tradizionale at 41 West 57th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues is a winner. (212) 245-2422. With high ceilings and enough space between tables, it is geared to the comfort of diners. Three is a raw bar in the front with fresh shellfish on display and an attractive liquor bar surrounded by wine bottles. Incidentally, it delighted me to notice that red wines with fish had a whole page of the menu. I have always preferred red wine with fish and it was great to see that this restaurant does too.
As soon as we were seated and before we ordered, William Fougere, the Direttore Generale, arrived with a huge tray of hot shrimp balls which he distributed to all the diners. As we opened the large menu we were pleased to see the catch date for the seafood, which is fresh daily. Our waiter Terry, described himself as a "Cajun Asian from Louisiana" and was most helpful. From the several specialty martinis we chose Green Apple for my companion and Peach Martini for me. Each was good.
There were many tempting choices on the menu and when I saw Shellfish Soup with shrimp, clams and mussels I requested a taste. It was excellent as was our Jumbo Lump Crabmeat and Shrimp Salad. Other salads include Chopped Mixed Vegetable Salad with Roasted Chicken; Grilled Gulf Shrimp or Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella; Scallop and Sicilian Couscous Salad; and Shrimp Catalana. There are main course salads from $17.95, and panini accompanied by Italian frites and salad with choices of Prosciutto di Parma and Fontina Cheese, Chicken and Pancetta, Hamburger and Hand Chopped Yellowfin Tuna Burger from $14.95. There are other salads and such antipasti as Fried Clams and Artichokes alla Giudea, with prices from $9.
For our pasta, we opted for Seafood Risotto but as described it consisted of Shrimp, Langoustine, Clams, Octopus and Calamari. When I said that I had an allergy both to calamari and octopus, Terry said not to worry, it is made to order and those two ingredients would be eliminated. When it arrived it was delicious, priced at $22.50; it is important to note that food allergies can be handled. Our other entrée was a whole Sea Bass from the Mediterranean roasted with sea salt and olive oil. Terry deboned it with ease and it was fine with Yukon gold potatoes and was $29. Other fish available that day were Monkfish, Arctic Char, Tuna and Lemon Sole. A whole Sea Roasted Dover Sole is $46.
Our wines were Merlot for me and Dolcello D'Alba for my companion, who prefers white wine. For those who do not want seafood there are three steak dishes from $24.75.
Daily there is a three-course lunch: a choice between Fried Clams or Arugula and Radicchio; Tagliolini al Branzino or Tagliata di Tonno; and desserts of Sorbet or Chocolate Mousse at a prix fixe $24.07.
Dinner is a la carte with many of the dishes listed for lunch. Late supper after 9:30 is Hamburger or Chopped Organic Mixed Vegetables, Roasted Chicken and Mozzarella Salad, from $18.95.
Our desserts were Tiramisu in a bowl big enough for two, Apricot Fruit Tart and Chocolate Mousse. Each was excellent. As we finished our cappuccino, Mr. Fougere came with a large tray of hot out-of-the-oven cookies. This topped off a fine dining experience.
Hours: Monday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:30p.m.;
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.